When It Comes to the Gaza Strip, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu Think Alike

March 5 2019

As the April 9 Israeli elections draw near, the campaigns of the two front-runners for the premiership—the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and the former IDF chief Benny Gantz—have been striking a similar note: each claims that the opposing candidate is soft on terror, willing to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians, and reluctant to act toughly and decisively against Hamas. Haviv Rettig Gur argues that this rhetorical posturing obscures the fact that the two candidates fundamentally agree on their approach toward Gaza:

After Arab states failed to dislodge Israel through military effort, [a] new strategy [evolved that] seeks to replace direct confrontation by military formations with, [in the words of one Israeli expert], “the methodical erosion of the enemy’s resolve” through unconventional guerrilla-like means. . . . Part of this strategy of permanent confrontation includes a redefinition of victory. Whereas Israelis, like most Westerners, are culturally primed to seek a decisive clash, Hamas and Hizballah see in mere survival a victory, since it permits the continuation of the muqawama [“resistance”]. So long as the enemy doesn’t win, it loses. . . .

Netanyahu, the prime minister in 2014, and Gantz, then the IDF chief of staff, are among the key architects of Israel’s response to [this strategy]. That response flows from a basic premise: in this waiting game, time is on Israel’s side. There is a corollary: Israel can do a great deal in the meantime to ensure this long war concludes in its favor.

And so Israel has set about degrading the capabilities of its guerrilla enemies and growing its own non-conventional capabilities, from missile defense to cyber and espionage to precision air power to the psychological arena intended to undermine the terror groups’ backing at home. Hence the Gaza blockade and the persistent, increasingly public Israeli air campaign against Hizballah’s supply chain in Syria. . . .

It is no accident, then, that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz believes it is in Israel’s interest to uproot Hamas from Gaza. . . . This is ultimately a strategy of containment, of demonstrating . . . that Israel is better positioned to win not only a conventional conflict but this new psychological game of “chicken” as well.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Gaza Strip, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Israeli Security

 

Despite What the UN Says, the Violence at the Gaza Border Is Military, Not Civilian, in Nature

March 22 2019

On Monday, a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry issued its final report on last spring’s disturbances at the Gaza border. Geoffrey Corn and Peter Margulies explain why the report is fatally flawed:

The commission framed the events [in Gaza] as a series of demonstrations that were “civilian in nature.” Israel and its Supreme Court, [which has investigated some of the killings that occurred], framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel’s ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice’s framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred at the Israel-Gaza border in spring 2018.

Kites, [for instance], played a telltale role [in the violence]. When most people think of kites, they think of a child’s plaything or a hobbyist’s harmless passion. In the Gaza confrontation, kites [became] a new and effective, albeit low-tech, tactic for attacking Israel. As the report conceded, senior Gaza leaders, including from Hamas, “encouraged” the unleashing of waves of incendiary kites that during and since the spring 2018 confrontations have burned thousands of acres of arable land within Israel. The resulting destruction included fires that damaged the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which conveys goods and gasoline from Israel to Gaza. . . .

Moreover, the incendiary-kite offensive was an effective diversion from the efforts encouraged and coordinated by Hamas last spring to pierce the border with Israel and attack both IDF personnel and the civilian residents of the beleaguered Israeli towns a short distance from the border fence. . . .

The commission also failed to acknowledge that Hamas sought to use civilians as an operational cover to move members of its armed wing into position along the fence. For IDF commanders, this increased the importance of preventing a breach [in the fence]. Large crowds directly along the fence would simplify breakthrough attempts by intermingled Hamas and other belligerent operatives. The crowds themselves also could attempt to pour through any breach. Unfortunately, the commission seems to have completely omitted any credible assessment of the potential casualties on all sides that would have resulted from IDF action to seal a breach once it was achieved. . . .

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Read more at Lawfare

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war, UNHRC, United Nations